There is no doubt that I miss the roses when winter hits and the final buds shrivel as they decide it just isn't worth it to continue struggling through the cool days and cold nights. I've been watching my garden carefully for the opening of those last buds, grabbing them greedily each night for a quick trip inside so we can still enjoy their beauty before Winter grips the Flint Hills.
Rosa 'Purple Pavement'
Roses, in the past and currently, have not been great contributors to the fall and winter garden. Yes, there are a number of roses that provide some nice red or orange hips that contrast nicely against the snow. There are also a few roses whose leaves, given the right fall conditions, turn a nice yellow or yellow-orange before they finally tumble down. In my garden, 'Purple Pavement' is one of those roses that gives me a nice yellow before the leaves drop and sometimes it might even leave a nice juicy red hip or two around. And gardeners in-the-know have been aware for a number of years that a few roses, such as 'Therese Bugnet', have a nice purple-red hue to their winter canes that even rivals that of the red-twig dogwood.
'Therese Bugnet' winter canes
The future, though, is bright. Paul Barden has been talking about breeding new bright-red fall foliage into roses on his website and his blog here and here. He's reporting good results from crosses of 'Therese Bugnet', R. foliolosa, R. solieana, and R. arkansana, among others. He doesn't know what all the blooms look like yet, but with further breeding, I'm sure he'll end up with some beautiful four-season roses. I didn't purloin the pictures, so you'll have to follow the links to get there, but make sure you take a look at them and while you do it, dream of an improved Knockout with bright red fall foliage to rival a burning bush. Now if Mr. Barden can just improve the yucky red-orange color of Knockout in the process!
P.S. Yes, I've been a little slow posting the last 10 days. Alas, preparing lectures and allowing for the twists and turns of life sometimes interfere with my hobbies. Readers, please keep checking back when I get lax.